L&T President Jonathan Allen weighs in on how to make the most of externally sourced content.

Content marketers are responsible for producing huge amounts of content every day, but many brands don’t have the time, staff, or resources to keep pace with the internet’s constant news cycle. Syndication and curation are two effective ways to strategically supplement your brand’s original content with other stellar insights from around the web.

According to research from Curata, top marketers are creating about 65% of their own content, curating approximately 25% and syndicating 10%. I sat down with L&T President Jonathan Allen to discuss the benefits of syndication and curation, and to identify ways for marketers to successfully implement externally produced content into their overall marketing strategies.

So, what is syndication and content curation?

“Both content curation and syndication focus on content originating from outside your own blog, brand, company or organization,” says Allen. “Both strategies are similar, as they have an eye to selecting and presenting someone else’s content that may be of interest to your audience. Typically, that audience is on social media and constitutes your brand’s fan base or following on Facebook and Twitter.”

However, Allen points out that ‘content curation’ differs from ‘syndication,’ as curation “tends to be short-form and designed exclusively around core mechanics of a particular social network, such as a comment plus retweet on Twitter, or sharing someone else’s post with a comment on Facebook.” Direct, non-commented curation can also happen on Tumblr or Pinterest, when a user simply presses the reblog or repin button.

“Syndication, on the other hand, has benefits for your social media audiences,” says Allen, “but is actually a strategy designed to improve readership of your blog.” With syndication, your business requests permission from the original author to repost her article — partially or in its entirety — to your own blog. You essentially duplicate the content from her blog to your own, and label it as such, linking back to the original source of the post and crediting the author with having written it.

The post can then be shared with your social networks to drive traffic back to your own properties, rather than the original author’s. In return, the author gets a link back to her site, which comes with obvious long-term benefits for her blog.

What are the benefits?

Content curation and syndication strategies are great for increasing the publishing cadence on your own blog at little additional cost. What’s more, these strategies enable you to highlight points of interest to your own user base and, oftentimes, host a discussion about it with your audience.

“It can be a really useful icebreaker for your social audiences, and is a useful way to introduce perspectives that differ from your core messaging strategy,” says Allen. “In that sense, it’s a very cost-effective (actually, free) way to test the types of content and perspectives that resonate with your audience.” Syndication and curation offer content marketers a low stakes environment to experiment with new content, without using valuable time and resources to conceptualize and develop it.

“If, for example, your business audience reacts positively to a meme or off-topic post about Star Wars, then it might be worth crafting your own offbeat post that draws parallels between your product or industry and other science fiction movies,” says Allen.

How should marketers be implementing syndication and curation?

As syndication effectively results in duplicate content, Allen notes that Google is unlikely to rank your version of the story: “don’t engage in syndication or republishing for the express purpose of SEO.” Instead, he urges marketers to “think of it as a lead nurturing or community engagement strategy for current customers and prospects. While there is no SEO benefit to republishing, there’s a lot to be said for creating new touchpoints with customers on social media.” Those moments of engagement reactivate your audience and give you another reason to get back in touch with them.

Both syndication and curation are also cost-effective ways to build social audiences around a topic. “While you may be directing or radiating traffic away to other sites, not only does that build relationships with the sites you’re sending visitors to, but it also helps your brand effectively act as a beacon for users who want to discover the best content on the web,” says Allen.

For those users, following your social media site becomes an easier method of content discovery than searching the web. If you then directly engage those social audiences in conversation, you’re creating a winning formula to build an audience who may later be interested in your own company’s product launch.

Is there an ideal content balance?

Ultimately, the goal of content curation and syndication is to build a loyal fanbase that may want to learn more about your products and services in the future. Marketers should always look for opportunities to mix up content offerings, with no more than two thirds of your content coming from outside your brand. But, Allen notes, “different social networks are better for different things. Activity on Twitter or Pinterest, for example, can be almost exclusively dedicated to curation.”

For syndicating and republishing full articles to your own site, the balance depends on your brand’s specific goals. Ideally, Allen says, less than a third of your brand’s content should be republished from other sources — the majority should be original. “Nonetheless,” says Allen, “feel free to break the rule if your metrics show that your audience prefers republishing, or the news cycle is so fast that your audience needs regular and objective updates.” In other words: take note of your audience’s preferences, and cater to them. Content curation and syndication must benefit them in order to benefit you.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into an authoritative trade publication. Click to learn more about how to produce great content and prove ROI on your marketing efforts.

Author Grace Stearns

A graduate of Pepperdine University, Grace has worked in PR and brand communications at publishing giants like Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, and Simon & Schuster. She writes about content marketing, social media, and technology for L&T's blog. A reluctant West Coast transplant, Grace lives in Brooklyn and spends a majority of her free time curled up with a good book.

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